OVERVIEW: Since its beginning after World War II, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has focused on developing future intellectual leaders and scholars for service in academia and government, and a number of former Wilson fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. As the name suggests, support comes mainly in the form of fellowships that cover a wide range of academic disciplines. The foundation also seeks to prepare outstanding individuals to teach STEM in high-needs high schools.
IP TAKE: The Wilson Foundation is dedicated to building the nation's intellectual capital, especially at the graduate level. Be sure to check for program-specific guidelines and possible geographic restrictions.
PROFILE: Before he was the 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson was a prominent scholar and professor. He earned a Ph.D. in history and government and taught at several U.S. colleges and universities, including Princeton, where he eventually became president. Under his leadership, Princeton became one of the nation's leading universities. Wilson's dedication to education and scholarship is reflected in the work of the foundation that bears his name.
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation began after World War II as a small fellowship program at Princeton that recognized a need for a new generation of outstanding college and university professors. The program provided graduate fellowships designed to attract returning World War II veterans into academia after leaving to serve in the armed forces. Gifts from the Carnegie Corporation and the Ford Foundation enabled the foundation to expand its work nationally.
Today, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation continues to support the work of exceptional graduate students, cultivating scholars and intellectuals for leadership in academia, business, and government. Former Wilson Foundation fellows have included two dozen combined Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, and numerous other distinguished individuals.
Fellowships offered by the foundation fall under a number of categories, including Access & Opportunity, Education, Faculty Development, Religion & Ethics, Teaching Fellowships, American History, and Women & Gender.
With its Teaching Fellowships, the foundation goes beyond the university and into the K-12 arena. Wilson hopes to recruit outstanding individuals for careers as high school teachers in the STEM disciplines and to create new models for preparing these teachers to work in high-needs schools, such as those in inner-city neighborhoods and rural areas. The fellowships are available in only a few states, so check the fellowships website for more information.
These fellowships are not the Wilson Foundation's first entry into secondary education. A past initiative promoted school-university partnerships through the creation of early college high schools, which allow students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. In addition, the Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color, which ended in 2015, worked to recruit outstanding men and women of color to work as K-12 teachers, and the Leonore Annenberg Teaching Fellowship, billed by the Wilson Foundation as a "Rhodes Scholarship for teaching," went to top college graduates who committed to work with with students in underserved urban and rural secondary communities.
Individual scholars interested in particular fellowships should contact the appropriate program associates. Also be sure to review the particular fellowship you’re interested in for more detailed information about the application process and requirements (they are not all identical).
- Arthur Levine, President
- Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Leadership